12 Aug 2013

New Zealand's McCully begins annual Pacific tour

4:49 am on 12 August 2013

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully is today due to leave for Papua New Guinea - the first stop on this year's annual Pacific tour.

Other stops will include PNG's autonomous Bougainville province, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Alex Perrottet reports.

"Murray McCully heads to Port Moresby this morning with business groups keen to set up partnerships with local interests in PNG. He will meet with Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to consolidate the talks held last week in Wellington. He will also review the community policing programme that New Zealand has been running for many years in Bougainville. But the major focus for this trip is the official opening of the Munda airstrip in the western division of Solomon Islands. New Zealand's $20 million US-dollar projects there are aimed at boosting tourism by raising the airport to international standard and ensuring it can serve as a back up to the main airport in Honiara. The Foreign Minister and officials will also meet their counterparts in Vanuatu for the first time since the new Government took power in March, and will review a project aiming to improve the quality of inter-island shipping. They will also look at sustainable tourism ventures in Port Vila."